To win a every aspect in a series, as is "Did you see the Red Sox sweep the Yankees?
Also, to use a broom to clean a room.

In fencing, a sweep is a defensive maneuver utilised when an opponent makes a low attack. You rotate your wrist down so that the [blade points towards the floor and sweep the opponent's blade to your outside line and past you, leaving him exposed. You should immediately follow this maneuver by snapping your blade back up and riposting. More commonly used in epée than foil, since epée has no right-of-way rules and epéeists have to actually PREVENT the blade from touching them.

In martial arts, the act of imbalancing your opponent, pushing or pulling his lower leg with your foot or shin, so that he falls to the floor. In order to score a point with this technique, you must also strike; simply sweeping your opponent will not be counted as a point. You must be able to control your opponent's fall. Many tournaments and martial arts schools do not allow sweeping in lower ranks. Sweeps to the inside of the leg are dangerous as they may result in injury to the knee. The best time to sweep is when your opponent is setting a foot down, but has not yet put his weight fully on it.


"I will sweep the land with the broom of destruction. I, the Lord Almighty, have spoken!"
-----Isaiah 14:23

Sweeping is the technical term for using a broom. (It's a strong verb, as befits such a vital action, so the past tense is swept). Most often, floors are swept, although hearths also require sweeping, as do sidewalks, and many other things from furniture to ceilings. Here I'm going to cover floors, hearths, and outdoors, leaving you the reader to discover all the other wonderful uses for sweeping skills.

Sweeping a floor

If you are asked to use a broom, it will most likely be to sweep a tiled or linoleum floor, yet this is one of the most difficult types of sweeping. To start, hold the broom loosely with your right (or dominant) hand at about the middle of the handle. If this is not a comfortable height for you, you need a different size of broom. Place your other hand on the top of the handle. The basic sweeping motion consists of using the top hand to swing the broom in a pendulum-type motion around the axis of the lower hand. This should be a very brisk, swishy motion. Practice a few times. It's fun. This is not like using a dust mop: you are not just pushing the dirt around on the floor. You're imparting to it speed and momentum of its own, so that the dust flees before you in joy and terror. (This is about the time when I start singing "Whistle While you Work".)

Now that you've got the motion down, it's time to work. Start with the corners; they're the hardest and usually the dirtiest bits. Sweep the dirt into piles, moving it toward the center of the room in stages. You are allowed to viciously mock people who walk through your piles of dirt at this point, although hitting them with the broom is not generally recommended. When the piles of dirt get too big to easily move with one sweep, sweep them together and move on to new piles.

If the room is exceptionally dirty, you may run into two problems. The first is that the broom becomes clogged up with dust bunnies, hair and bits of string that trail behind it, scatter the piles of dust, prevent proper sweeping motions and totally ruin the aerodynamics. The only remedy here, I fear, is to reach down and pull the tangle off the broom, tossing it in the trash. Sweeping with a clogged broom is an exercise in frustration, and trying to scrape or shake the detritus off generally makes things worse. The only way to keep this from happening is to sweep more often, although a newer broom or one with different bristle type might help.

The second problem is that you may be trying impart joyous sweeping momentum to a pile of dirt that contains crisp packets, soda cans, dirty socks, old pizza boxes and entire disassembled jeeps. This is usually a sign that the room needs to be picked up first. Unfortunately, most brooms are unable to handle anything much larger than a $20 bill, and big pieces of trash interfere with the proper movement of the dust. If possible, at this point draft an innocent bystander to pick out the litter and throw it away. Pizza boxes, sheets of paper, and similarly shaped items can come in handy later, however, if you lack a dustpan. Keep them aside if this seems likely to be a problem.

Also at this point, some people like to poke through the piles of dirt for any small items of value, such as spare change, pen lids, diamond earrings, and the aforementioned $20 bills. Tradition states that whoever is sweeping gets to keep whatever they find. Good luck with the diamond earrings. Unless you are a professional, this is apt to be the sum total of your material reward. (The spiritual rewards, however, are legion).

Okay. You should now have a nice clean floor, with several well-sorted piles of dust in the middle. Now you need to get rid of the piles. Resist the temptation to just sweep them under rugs or furniture or out the nearest door. The dust will simply be tracked right back in. Common practice here is to use a dustpan to move the dirt to some sort of proper trash receptacle. Dustpans are usually roughly rectangular, with a low wall around three sides, the fourth being flat and open. The goal of a dustpan is to use the broom to brush the dust into the open side of the dustpan. This is darn near impossible, especially because most modern dustpans are made of cheap heavy plastic. Use an old metal one if possible. You want to minimize the ridge formed where the dustpan meets the floor. If you have no dustpan, use a piece of paper or cardboard (the ones you saved out several steps ago) on which to sweep the dust. Stiff but thin is best. I tend to prefer cardboard to dustpans myself.

Unless you have a special hand-held brush (these sometimes come with dustpans) use the broom to sweep the dust into the dustpan or equivalent. Kneel down and grasp the broom near where the handle meets the spray (the brushy part) in your dominant hand. Hold the dustpan in your other hand, tilted at about 30° from horizontal, with the open end pressed tightly to the floor. Sweep the dust into the pan until it is full; then carefully carry it over to the trash receptacle and empty. Repeat until all of the piles of dust have disappeared. It is inevitable that there will be a little line of dust that won't go into the dustpan. Sweep over this last bit to spread it around until it is invisible. This is technically cheating, but nobody complains.

Congratulations! You've swept a floor! That's something to write home about!

Sweeping a Hearth

One of the many things eminently useful things I've learned from reading fantasy novels is the necessity of sweeping out the fireplace. Sweeping away the old ashes can make the difference between cussing over the firestarters for fifteen minutes and having a lovely blaze going right away. I'm not entirely certain why this works; partly, it opens up the airspace and allows for better circulation.

The most essential part of sweeping ashes is to make sure the ashes are cool. Thus why you do this before building the fire rather than after. This is especially important if your broom is flammable or you are going to put the old ashes in a paper bag. Yes, I learned that tip from experience. Most fireplace kits, along with tongs and bellows, include a hearthbroom and a shovel. Use the broom to push the ashes into a pile, then scoop them up in the shovel and put them elsewhere. The ashes can be saved to use in gardening, to alleviate acid soil, or used to make lye for soap, or to spread on icy sidewalks. There's no need to be careful; as long as the hearth is fairly clear, scattered cinders are fine.

Some fireplaces come with fancy gadgets for cleaning out the ashes. This is useful, but usually too much trouble to do before every fire. Just sweep the ashes aside, leaving a clear space in the middle of the hearth in which to build your fire. That's generally good enough; the ashes can be emptied later.

Sweeping Outdoors

If you're asked to sweep outdoors, there are two major things you will likely be sweeping: Dead leaves or snow. These have more in common than might be expected. You won't be able to sweep a heavy coating of wet snow, or a deep layer of wet leaves; but dry snow and dry leaves and twigs will sweep away well. The trick is to use a very light touch on the broom; too heavy-handed, and the snow will pack, the leaves will crumble, and you'll be left worse off than before. The goal here is use the broom almost as a fan, wafting it away, rather than shoving at it.

The good part about sweeping outside is that there's no need for a dustpan or shovel. You'll be clearing a limited area, probably a sidewalk or patio, and you can just sweep off to the side, letting it pile up at the edges and stay.

So know you know how to sweep a floor, a hearth, or a sidewalk. Amaze your friends! Spread the word! Get rid of that coating of smelly dust under your desk!

Sweep (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Swept (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Sweeping.] [OE. swepen; akin to AS. swapan. See Swoop, v. i.]


To pass a broom across (a surface) so as to remove loose dirt, dust, etc.; to brush, or rub over, with a broom for the purpose of cleaning; as, to sweep a floor, the street, or a chimney. Used also figuratively.

I will sweep it with the besom of destruction. Isa. xiv. 23.


To drive or carry along or off with a broom or a brush, or as if with a broom; to remove by, or as if by, brushing; as, to sweep dirt from a floor; the wind sweeps the snow from the hills; a freshet sweeps away a dam, timber, or rubbish; a pestilence sweeps off multitudes.

The hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies. Isa. xxviii. 17.

I have already swept the stakes. Dryden.


To brush against or over; to rub lightly along.

Their long descending train, With rubies edged and sapphires, swept the plain. Dryden.


To carry with a long, swinging, or dragging motion; hence, to carry in a stately or proud fashion.

And like a peacock sweep along his tail. Shak.


To strike with a long stroke.

Wake into voice each silent string, And sweep the sounding lyre. Pope.

6. Naut.

To draw or drag something over; as, to sweep the bottom of a river with a net.


To pass over, or traverse, with the eye or with an instrument of observation; as, to sweep the heavens with a telescope.

To sweep, ∨ sweep up, a mold Founding, to form the sand into a mold by a templet, instead of compressing it around the pattern.


© Webster 1913.

Sweep (?), v. i.


To clean rooms, yards, etc., or to clear away dust, dirt, litter, etc., with a broom, brush, or the like.


To brush swiftly over the surface of anything; to pass with switness and force, as if brushing the surface of anything; to move in a stately manner; as, the wind sweeps across the plain; a woman sweeps through a drawing-room.


To pass over anything comprehensively; to range through with rapidity; as, his eye sweeps through space.


© Webster 1913.

Sweep, n.


The act of sweeping.


The compass or range of a stroke; as, a long sweep.


The compass of any turning body or of any motion; as, the sweep of a door; the sweep of the eye.


The compass of anything flowing or brushing; as, the flood carried away everything within its sweep.


Violent and general destruction; as, the sweep of an epidemic disease.


Direction and extent of any motion not rectlinear; as, the sweep of a compass.


Direction or departure of a curve, a road, an arch, or the like, away from a rectlinear line.

The road which makes a small sweep. Sir W. Scott.


One who sweeps; a sweeper; specifically, a chimney sweeper.

9. Founding

A movable templet for making molds, in loam molding.

10. Naut. (a)

The mold of a ship when she begins to curve in at the rungheads; any part of a ship shaped in a segment of a circle.


A large oar used in small vessels, partly to propel them and partly to steer them.

11. Refining

The almond furnace.



A long pole, or piece of timber, moved on a horizontal fulcrum fixed to a tall post and used to raise and lower a bucket in a well for drawing water.

[Variously written swape, sweep, swepe, and swipe.]

13. Card Playing

In the game of casino, a pairing or combining of all the cards on the board, and so removing them all; in whist, the winning of all the tricks (thirteen) in a hand; a slam.

14. pl.

The sweeping of workshops where precious metals are worked, containing filings, etc.

Sweep net, a net for drawing over a large compass. -- Sweep of the tiller Naut., a circular frame on which the tiller traverses.


© Webster 1913.

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